Clif Notes

In The Vineyard With Laura

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Friday, August 7, 2015

With harvest only a few short weeks away, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the vineyards. I thought this would be a great time to introduce you to our Estate Vineyards and Grower Partners. Here they are…..

Amendola Vineyard – Our Sauvignon Blanc comes from this 1.5 acre, dry- farmed vineyard on Fulton Lane in downtown St. Helena.
Fortuna Vineyard – Turnbull’s Fortuna vineyard is located on the Silverado Trail in Oakville. We source a young block of Viognier from here. With their impeccable farming techniques, this is sure to be a special wine.
Ferrington Vineyard – Located just outside of Boonville in the Anderson Valley AVA of Mendocino County, the Ferrington Vineyard is home to our Gewurztraminer.
Bartolomei Vineyard – The Bartolomei family has lived in Talmage, just east of Ukiah, since the early 1900’s. Today, the fourth generation brothers farm the vineyards and have great knowledge of the land. Our Grenache comes from the Bartolomei Brothers, from which I make both red wine and Rose.
Matthaisson Vineyard – Steve Matthaisson has a 7-acre parcel of Chardonnay on Orchard Avenue in Napa, a popular neighborhood for high end Chardonnay. This vineyard is organically farmed.
Yount Mill Vineyards – The Hoxey family is another family with long history in the grape and wine business. Their ranch is located on the valley floor in Yountville and here we source organically farmed Grenache for our Bici Blend.
Beatty Ranch – Our Zinfandel comes from this 34 acre vineyard, nestled at 1800 ft elevation in the Howell Mountain AVA.
Nichelini Vineyard – If you have ever taken the windy drive out to Lake Berryessa on highway 128, you have surely passed below the Nichelini Vineyard. At approximately 1200 ft elevation, the view of the Vaca Mountains is stunning and so is the Petite Sirah.
Cold Springs Vineyard – Located in the Howell Mountain AVA at the very end of Cold Springs Road is Clif Family Winery’s first Estate Cabernet vineyard. Purchased in 2010, the 5.5 acres of clone 4, 7 and 337 grow on decomposed volcanic ash-like soil. This property is CCOF certified organic.
Croquet Vineyard – Also in the Howell Mountain AVA, the Croquet property was purchased by Clif Family Winery in 2012. It is home to a professional croquet court and 3.3 acres of CCOF certified Estate mountain Cabernet.
The Home Vineyard – Located just below the Howell Mountain AVA line at 1170 ft elevation, the Home Vineyard is where we grow our Estate Zinfandel, adjacent to the Clif Family Farm.

So, with all that information in your pocket, you’ll be well versed as I talk about each of these sites throughout the course of harvest. I expect to schedule our first pick within the next 10 days, so stay tuned!

Meet Laura Barrett

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

For those of us who have not met, I am Laura Barrett, Winemaker for Clif Family Winery. I began this position in November of 2014, just after the last grapes of 2014 were harvested and fermented. What an interesting time to begin! I had so many exciting winemaking projects to tackle – bottling the 2014 white wines, blending and bottling the 2013 red wines, finishing and aging the 2014 red wines, sourcing fruit for 2015 and getting to know our three Estate Vineyards: Croquet, Cold Springs and the Home Vineyard – all before I actually made a drop of wine! I’ve had almost a year now to get to know this great group of people, the wines and the company’s goals… all in preparation for my very first vintage in 2015.

We are now gearing up for harvest in the Napa Valley. What a perfect time to start a blog! My hope is to bring you along on my winemaking journey and to share what it’s like to be in the thick of it. We’ll talk about updates we’re making in the vineyard and in the cellar, and what it’s like preserving style while making your first wines within a new project. I look forward to having you follow me during this journey and the opportunity to share the fruits of my labor in the coming years!

Wilted Kale & Farm Egg Bruschetta

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Thursday, May 28, 2015

From the Clif Family Kitchen
Recipe by Chef John McConnell


1 rustic bread loaf from your favorite bakery
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped; reserve 1 clove for brushing on bruschetta
2 bunches of kale
6 farm fresh eggs
1 bunch of radishes (French Breakfast, Easter Egg or Watermelon are our favorites)
1 small jar high quality anchovies packed in olive oil
1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
4 TBSP Clif Family Kitchen extra virgin olive oil, plus more for bruschetta
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

Pre-slice bread and leave out uncovered, you’ll want bread slightly stale before grilling to maintain crunchy texture after bread is toasted. In a medium sauce pot, bring water up to a boil. Place egg carefully in water and cook for exactly nine minutes. Remove from water and transfer to ice bath. Once completely cool, peel eggs and use an egg slicer or sharp knife to cut eggs into uniform slices and set aside. Wash and cut kale, stem and all into larger pieces to be sautéed. In large sauté pan, add 4 cloves of chopped garlic, chili flakes and 4 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. Over medium heat frequently stirring with a wooden spoon, lightly brown garlic to infuse flavor into oil, but NOT burning. To stop cooking process, add whole filets of anchovies and breakup in oil using wooden spoon. Once anchovies are incorporated, add kale and sauté quickly to wilt kale over high heat.

Once kale is wilted check for seasoning as anchovies vary in salt content, it may not be necessary to season additionally with salt. Add lemon juice and set kale aside keeping warm in sauté pan until ready to serve. Prepare radishes by slicing thinly on a mandolin or by using a sharp knife. Prepare a BBQ grill or grill pan. Make sure pan is preheated before grilling bread to ensure a proper toast. Grill bread dry to desired toast level and set aside. Brush grilled bread with clove of garlic and drizzle extra virgin olive oil on each side. To assemble, redress kale in pan with oil and cooking juices and drape over bruschetta so that juices absorb into grilled bread. Top with slices of egg and radish and a sprinkle of coarse texture sea salt.

Pairing Suggestion: Gary’s Improv Howell Mountain Zinfandel by Clif Family

Salami and Mushroom filled Torta

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Friday, April 17, 2015

Recipe by Michelin star chef Matthew Accarrino

Team Accarrino (Acca) is a group of people, sponsors and passionate individuals interested in promoting food, wine and cycling lifestyles to inspire and involve those around us. Led by renowned chef Matthew Accarrino an avid cyclist and celebrated chef. Team Accarrino are cooks, chefs, cyclists, foodies, friends and customers.

This rustic recipe was inspired by a trip to Umbria where foraged wild greens made the filling for this incredible and forgiving Olive oil dough. Here I have adapted it to feature sweet salami and earthy mushrooms, it will pair perfectly with the 2011 Grenache. This dough recipe makes a great base, vary the filling to suite your taste and keep the recipe for the future. Enjoy! --Team Accarrino

Olive Oil Dough


  • scant 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/3 cups Durum semolina flour, coarse
  • 2 grams ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup White wine
  • ½ cup Hot water
  • ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the flours and salt on low speed. Add the wine, water, and oil. Mix for 2-3 minutes or until a dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 10 minutes to rest.



  • 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Butter, unsalted
  • ¼ - ½ ea Onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cups Cremini mushrooms or any mix of mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup Drained ricotta
  • ¾ cup Sartori Bellavitano cheese or Parmesan, grated
  • 2-3 oz Salumi, small diced, fennel or black pepper (La Quercia)
  • 2ea Large eggs
  • 5 turns Black pepper from a peppermill
  • 1 Nutmeg for grating, or grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Heat the olive oil in a wide pot. Add the butter, onion and sweat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 12-15 minutes. Remove mixture to a bowl or tray and when cool enough to handle, chop the mixture and place in a mixing bowl. Stir in the salumi, ricotta, cheese, and season with a few gratings of nutmeg and pinches salt and pepper. Add the eggs and mix well.

Clear a large workspace for rolling out the dough. Unwrap the dough and with some extra flour dust the surface and dough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about 1/8” thick and a large rectangular shape.Trim the edges with a knife to form a large sheet.

Line the bottom two-thirds of the dough towards yourself with a layer of the filling. Starting from the bottom edge with the filling on it, slowly roll the dough like a strudel towards the opposite edge with no filling on it (away from you). Keep the roll tight.

When completely rolled transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top with olive oil. Using a skewer, poke holes in the top of the torta so steam can escape. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until golden-brown. Serve slices warm with a salad and simple vinaigrette.

Variation- if made ahead the torta can be sliced into portions, set on the cut side and topped with a bit of cheese. Bake for 5-7 minutes in a 375 degree oven to warm and melt the cheese. Serve.



As Needed Garden greens, shaved vegetables, herbs and/or thin salami slices
As Needed Simple lemon vinaigrette or other dressing
As Needed Grated Bellavitano or Parmesan

Stories from Italy

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 13, 2015, Molvena, Veneto, Italia

Another day, another bike ride.

Today we decided to ride to Monte Corno and deliver a special package from Clif Family Winery and Clif Bar to Mirko at his Rifugio called La Baita. The first time we rode this “via” was last year in September, with our friends Gregg, Deven and John as day one of our 7 day bike trip through the Dolomiti. Monte Corno sits on the south edge of the Alto Piano di Asiago. Yes, Asiago, the cheese, where one rides by cheese factories on many of the amazing and beautiful roads in this area.

Since moving here last October for one year, we have ridden to Monte Corno numerous times. Most of our rides include lunch (pranzo) at Refugio La Baita Busa. The first lunch was in October on a ride with Paolo and Nene, the couple that I met 25 years ago at Samsara, their Bar and Bruschetteria. Kit met them a few years later in 1994 and we have been friends ever since. Paolo & Nene, if you don't know, inspired us to start our own Bruschetteria at Velo Vino in the form of a food truck. Which is one of the few things we miss being away for a year.

The food at Baita is so amazing, everything is hand made, "fatto a mano." Including the pasta and gnocchi. It cracks us up, here it is, nothing around, at the edge of this mountain plateau and you find this place to eat that is as good as any Italian trattoria in San Francisco, New York, or Italy. The first time we went there with Paolo and Nene we ordered both the gnocchi and the pasta Bigoli. Pasta Bigoli is unique to this part of the Veneto - think really thick spaghetti. The gnocchi was amazing. This also being the first time Paolo & Nene ate at the Baita, they were also pretty blown away. However Paolo did put the challenge on the table by saying he makes a better gnocchi. The following week he did, as well as taught us his method, actually was better, not by much but he won the challenge.

After about six lunches with Mirko, we started to get to know him, he knew we were from California but didn't know anything about us. Sometimes after lunch he would offer us a digestive, a wonderful, homemade liquore from local alpine herbs. "Not too much" we would say, we still have to ride down the hill back to our apartment, 5000 ft. below La Baita. Yes, the climb right from "nostra casa" is a 5000 ft. climb. And we love it. The roads are perfectly paved, the climb is not too steep, the scenery is magnificent, and usually no more then six cars pass us on our way up. Since we rode there mostly in the winter, we carried all of our warm clothing in our large seat bags, even ski mittens and down coats since the "gradi" or temperature was usually below freezing.

Today however is different, warm sunny, 60-70 degrees. Primavera has arrived. Yesterday I road in my first Italian Gran Fondo, and my last. It was one of the scariest things I’ve have ever done on a bike. That story for another time.

Last time we were at Baita, just a week ago, we told Mirko we wanted to bring him some wine from our Cantina (Italian for winery). That time we drove as I was resting for the Gran “Crazy” Fondo. After lunch he gave us a bottle of his home made Liquore "Amaro" made from "Infuso di Erbe Alpine"

Back to today, we decided to bring Mirko two bottles of wine on our bikes. Along with a can of Dark Chocolate Toffee Pistachios from our Kitchen line, and a variety of Clif products. Note: see where I carried the reserve Cab in foto.

After 2 hours of climbing we arrived, set up the bikes so Kit could show how we carried the goods, as I went in and told Mirko, "abbiamo consegna speciale," we have a special delivery. He said, "per me?!"

He was so grateful and thought it was especially cool that we climbed 1500 meters/5000 feet and carried everything up on our bikes.

Then we did it again, another totally amazing pranzo. Bigoli and a little white wine. Just a little, remember, we were soon to drop 5000 ft. back to our house. And we did, after “due café”, and landed safely.

Next time we ride to La Baita, we will let you know how he liked our wines!

Ciao a tutti,
Gary & Kit

Red Flint Corn

Originally Posted by Brian Hawkins on Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Spina Rossa Della Velsugana

By Drew Erickson, Assistant Farm Manager

Corn (zea mays) is one of the only cereal grains grown by gardeners according to Sunset’s Western Garden Book. And at Clif Family Farm, it is one of our best crops!

Corn has a long history. It was developed by Stone Age humans in Mesoamerica where it was hybridized and selected for thousands of years, although how remains a disputed mystery. Around 2500 BC it spread from the fields around Mexico and was soon grown as a staple grain by people across the Americas.

In the 15th and 16th centuries explorers brought the crop back to Europe where it thrived in a variety of climates. In the Italian Alps a handful of farmers in the Valsugana Valley selected their corn over generations to create a unique variety. They were selecting for a large red cob, early ripening, with distinct spines. In the process it developed a unique flavor. Known as Spina Rossa Della Valsugana, it became a staple crop for the region.

The seed was brought back to America and named Floriani Red Flint in honor of the Floriani family who donated the first few kilos of seed to get back to the US. There has since been a renaissance in growing this type of corn for polenta.

At Clif Family Farm we have had success with several varieties of sweet corn. Summer 2014 was our first attempt at growing this rare red flint corn. So far the project has worked. A test plot of a few hundred square feet yielded about two hundred ears of corn that are now dry and ready to shell.

This variety is open pollinated, so while we are excited to try the finished polenta, we will be sure to hold back the best cobs to save as seed for next year’s crop. In the years to come we hope to plant up to a quarter acre of our garden in corn for polenta or grits, with a potential yield of 500 lbs to 750lbs and enough seed to replant year after year.

We chose to grow Spina Rossa Della Velsugana for many reasons. This variety is reputed to have a richer flavor and is deep yellow, with flecks of pink. It an ideal homesteading corn for the ability to seed save and it’s abundant yields. Due to its scarcity it is more valuable than most commodity corn. It is much easier to harvest and process than wheat, which we have grown in the past. It also fits our mission to rediscover an old way of farming.

This summer, you may be able to try some of this delicious polenta from the Clif Family Bruschetteria Food Truck.

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